Facet Syndrome

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The facet joints connect the bones of the spine and contain nerve roots that pass through these joints from the spinal cord to the arms, legs, and other parts of the body.

These joints also allow the spine to bend and twist. They keep the back from slipping too far forward or twisting without limits. Like the knee joint, they contain cartilage to allow smooth movement where two bones meet. Facet joints are lined with the synovium and have lubricating joint fluid.

When an injury or arthritis causes swelling, patients may experience pain. If the affected joint is in the neck, symptoms may include headache and difficulty moving the head. If the injured facet joint is in the back, patients may experience pain in the lower back, buttocks, or thighs.

Patient-with-facet-syndrome-being-examined-by-doctor
Woman-touching-neck-and-side-in-pain-from-facet-syndrome

Symptoms of Facet Syndrome


Signs of this condition include:

  • Pain when turning the body to the left or right
  • Difficulty standing up straight or getting out of a chair

Pain may even force a person to walk hunched over. The specific symptoms of facet syndrome will depend on where the affected joint is located and which nerve roots it affects.

Causes of Facet Syndrome


The most common causes of facet syndrome include:

  • Trauma, leading to whiplash and other types of traumatic injuries, can cause pain and inflammation in the facet joints.
  • Degenerative changes, leading to pain in the thoracic, cervical and lumbar spine, can cause abnormal stress and strain on the spine and facet joints.
  • Age-related wear and tear, due to aging, overuse of the low back and neck, or heavy labor demands, can cause wear and tear on the joints.
  • Genetic predisposition to facet joint disease may lead to a higher risk of developing it.
  • Other factors:
    • Job or hobby that requires repetitive motion, such as bending over and twisting to lift things repeatedly
    • Being overweight
    • Arthritis, gout, and a few types of infections
Doctor-examining-patient-suffering-from-facet-syndrome

Treatment Options for Facet Syndrome


At Westcare Clinics, patients diagnosed with facet syndrome may benefit from pain management techniques, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine. The right treatment option will depend on the patient’s unique condition and pain level.

Treatment for facet syndrome may incorporate pain management techniques, such as cold and heat therapy, gentle exercise, physical therapy, biofeedback, mind-body techniques, therapeutic massage, music therapy, and occupational therapy to help manage their symptoms. Each patient will receive personalized recommendations from their doctor for managing pain.

Westcare Clinics also offers joint and soft tissue injections to help minimize pain associated with the condition. These injections may include epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal), piriformis injection, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections. The type of soft tissue injection best for the patient will depend on the unique characteristics of their condition.

Westcare Clinics is proud to offer occupational medicine for patients who need help adjusting to the physical demands of the workplace. Our team of healthcare practitioners is also available to train employers seeking to adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities to the physical limitations of an employee diagnosed with facet syndrome.

Advanced Treatment


Patients experiencing severe symptoms may need further treatment to manage pain and treat their condition. Advanced treatment options may include chiropractic adjustment, surgery, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment for facet syndrome.

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